As our tour was a Great Rail Journey it was about time we boarded another (and our final) train taking us from Kiruna even further north to Bjorkliden. A fairly leisurely morning we made it to the station about 20 minutes before the train was due to leave however it was unfortunately delayed. By an hour. As mainland European trains go it was unusual for it to be late and we were informed it didn’t happen often. Which in some ways was a little annoying. We spent the hour in the waiting room reading before finding our seats once the trained pulled into the station.
On our way to the seat we had to walk through the dog compartment….a place on the train where you’re dogs can roam free and sit on the seats. Not really my cup of tea but I can see the benefit.
As with our train from Lulea to Kiruna this train was nothing to write home amount. It was a much shorter trip but we had a window to gaze out of. Not that you could see much more than lots of snow!
Once we arrived at Bjorkliden station we were met with even more snow then we had seen including some falling from the sky. It was very picturesque and was a sign of what was to come. Bjorkliden is approx 120 miles north of the arctic circle which meant we were the furthest north we had been. Our hotel for the next 3 days was a short drive up a hill which was a bit perilous so we were thankful the bus had snow chains!
Our hotel rooms weren’t quite ready for us so we chilled out in the hotel lobby (where we were to spend a lot of time over the next few days) with a beer, enjoying each others company and looking forward to our evening excursion.
For the rest of the afternoon we spent our time in armchairs by an open fire with a good book and a couple more beers. Downtime is definitely overrated, I enjoyed the passing hours of the next few days in that same place just relaxing!
5:30pm came around and we headed for an early dinner not before seeing a quick glimpse of those elusive lights outside which got us even more excited for our evening.
After dinner we were met by Chad Blakely of Lights Over Lapland to introduce us to our next two nights activities, first a photographic tour searching for the lights and then the next day a trip to the Sky Station in Abisko National Park.
If I’m honest I was underwhelmed by Chad and his talk, which really just consisted of him talking about himself and explaining how successful he had been. It was a bit of a waste of half an hour but before long we were jumping in a mini bus out to the area we would be Northern Lights hunting.
We arrived at a hotel with time to suit up, split into groups and have a camera demo. As part of this tour you get lent a DSLR and a tripod to take photo’s with. The only thing you have to bring is an SD card. It was only 1 camera between 2 so we were pleased to also have one of ours. The snow suits were also amusing, they were super warm which was great but by the time you have wrestled yourself into them and you have stood inside for a camera demo you are roasting and at the point of fainting! A quick step outside preventing this and helped me stay warm for most of the night!
A short walk later we were in (what I think) was a field with a Tipi. This was our base for the next few hours. There were some interesting buildings and the tipi to add into the pictures, we just needed the lights. I will look at doing a dedicated post soon about the Northern Lights as they are worth one all to themselves.
As time went on they came out now and again (I will let the pictures do the talking below), after a couple of hours we took a short break in the tipi with some hot lingonberry juice.
My aurora sense was tingling so we checked outside only to be met with the most amazing sky full of colour and dancing like there was no tomorrow. The pictures we have of this spectacle aren’t the best because it moved so fast and we wanted to make sure we also saw it with our own eyes as after all that’s what it is all about!
It only stayed for 10 minutes and afterwards we didn’t see much else but we didn’t need to. I can truly say it knocked my socks off as experiences go. The Northern Lights will forever be mysterious and I can understand why in the past they were feared and revered.
The tour itself was good, our guide made it all the more special as he was so enthusiastic and enjoyed photographing the lights. I would recommend it for anyone in the area, perhaps opt for the 2 night option just to ultra make sure you see them and get the different locations but even if you get to see them for just 5 minutes it will be so worth it!
Exhausted and past midnight we made it back to the hotel in time for a quick hot chocolate before bed. A long day but well worth it!!
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